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Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Roots of Freedom and Equality

Civil War to Civil Rights

 

—Downtown Heritage Trail —

 
The Roots of Freedom and Equality Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, December 6, 2009
1. The Roots of Freedom and Equality Marker
Inscription.
“It is known to you that events have transpired within the last few days, deeply affecting the peace and character of our community.”

With these words, city officials tried to calm the angry mobs gathering on this corner in April 1848. The crowds blamed the National Era, an abolitionist newspaper located near this sign, for the attempted escape of 77 African American slaves on the ship Pearl. They threatened to destroy the Era’s printing press. The editor, Gamaliel Bailey, was one of many anti-slavery activists who made Washington, D.C. a national center for abolitionist activity. He wrote of the irony of slavery in the capital of a nation dedicated to liberty and equality.

Tragically, most of the captured slaves were sold and taken south. The mayor and others quelled the potential riot, and the National Era survived. In 1851 and 1852, in a new location just a block and a half south of here, the paper serialized a novel by a little known author named Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, sold 300,000 copies in its first year. The dramatic story intensified sectional rivalries and, many believe, made war inevitable.

One hundred years later, on this same block, Charles Hamilton Houston continued the struggle for freedom and equality for African
The Roots of Freedom and Equality Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, December 6, 2009
2. The Roots of Freedom and Equality Marker
Americans. Houston, a practicing attorney at 615 F Street, and a professor of law at Howard University, taught Thurgood Marshall the legal strategies that led to the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education that racial segregation in the schools was unconstitutional. Marshall, later a Supreme Court justice, credited Houston as the person who laid the groundwork for the modern civil rights movement.
 
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number .4.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil War to Civil Rights marker series.
 
Location. 38° 53.828′ N, 77° 1.31′ W. Marker is in Downtown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on 7th Street, NW south of Abe Pollin Way (F Street), NW, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mary Church Terrell (a few steps from this marker); Samuel F. B. Morse (within shouting distance of this marker); The Daguerre Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named The Daguerre Monument (within shouting distance
The Roots of Freedom and Equality Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 13, 2015
3. The Roots of Freedom and Equality Marker
The marker has been updated with the a color photo of Harriet Beecher Stowe's portrait and a tiny change in the wording.
of this marker); General Post Office (within shouting distance of this marker); Patent Office Building (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Abraham Lincoln Walked Here (about 300 feet away); "Blodgett's Hotel" (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Downtown.
 
More about this marker. [Photo Captions:]

Left and below: Charles Hamilton Houston, left, mentor to the future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, below, had an office on this block. (Moorland Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.)

Above and right: Officials try to quiet protests of Pearl in 1848. ([Poster: “To the Citizens of Washington ...”] Library of Congress.) Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe was first published near this spot in serialized form in the National Era ([Title page] Library of Congress; [photo of author] National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.)
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Also see . . .
The 600 Block of F Street c. 1900 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 13, 2015
4. The 600 Block of F Street c. 1900
All but the tallest of these buildings stood in the 600 block of F Street (Site of today's Verizon Center) at the time of Abraham Lincoln. This photo was taken about 1900.
Close-up of photo on reverse of marker

1. Charles Hamilton Houston. (Submitted on December 6, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly. (Submitted on December 6, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
3. Harriet Beecher Stowe. (Submitted on December 7, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
 
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansAntebellum South, USCivil RightsPolitics
 
To The Citizens of Washington image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 13, 2015
5. To The Citizens of Washington
In 1848 city officials urged an angry mob protesting on this corner to remain calm.
Close-up of photo on marker
Harriet Beecher Stowe image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 13, 2015
6. Harriet Beecher Stowe
The original of this 1853 painting of Harriet Beecher Stowe by Alanson Fisher can be seen in the nearby National Portrait Gallery
Close-up of photo on marker
Uncle Tom's Cabin image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 13, 2015
7. Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was first published near this spot in serialized form in the National Era.
Close-up of image on marker
The National Era<br>Thursday December 11, 1851. image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 13, 2015
8. The National Era
Thursday December 11, 1851.
Including Chapter XXVI of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Close-up of image on marker
Charles Hamilton Houston image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 13, 2015
9. Charles Hamilton Houston
Charles Hamilton Houston mentor to the future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall had an office on this block.
Close-up of photo on marker
Thurgood Marshall image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 13, 2015
10. Thurgood Marshall
Close-up of photo on marker
Harriet Beecher Stowe image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
11. Harriet Beecher Stowe
Charles Hamilton Houston image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, December 6, 2009
12. Charles Hamilton Houston
Roots of Freedom and Equality Marker
(Moreland Spingarn Research Center-Howard University)
You Are Here<br>Downtown Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 13, 2015
13. You Are Here
Downtown Heritage Trail
The Civil War (1861-1865) transformed Washington, DC from a muddy backwater to a center of national power. Ever since, the city has been at the heart of the continuing struggle to realize fully the ideals for which the war was fought. The 25 signs that mark this trail follow the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, Frederick Douglass, and others, famous and humble, who shaped a nation and its capital city while living and working in historic downtown DC.
Close-up of map on marker
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,511 times since then and 19 times this year. Last updated on , by Katherine Kane of Hartford, Connecticut. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   11, 12. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   13. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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